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Saturday, January 16th, 2010

How To Get Published in Magazines In Just 90 Days

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Would you like to be published in print and online magazines…in just 90 days?

That’s what happened to my new friend Brooke, who generously agreed to answer some questions about how she got published so quickly.

Blogger Brooke Miller

Blogger Brooke Miller

Here’s our Q&A:

Q: Hi Brooke. I get asked by aspiring writers all the time: “How do I get published?” — Can you talk about how you went from a blog to getting a articles published in commercial magazines?

Absolutely. I can sum up how that happened, as well as the advice I would give to others around that topic in four words: Stop typing, start talking.

Being the extrovert I am it was natural for me to focus on my skills that had little to do with writing, but rather direct communication and relationship building.

What I write about is a topic deeply close to my heart and I do spend a lot of time at my computer, but getting it out there takes more than a great column.

Connect with your friends and tell them about your blog. Pick up the phone!! Reach out to your old boss, your yoga teacher, your co-workers.

Create a focus group either in your living room or via email- ask your friends specific questions about your blog, your writing, and what they want to see more of.

Literally start talking (over email definitely counts), socializing, and connecting.

In my case, the specific social vehicle that supported my blog being picked up in print the first time was…wait for it…Facebook.

I shamelessly and proudly told Facebook friends about my blog, checked out what old friends were up to, re-connected with them around our passion for writing and expression, and thought of creative ways to work together.

And when I wrote about a topic I thought a friend would like or be interested in, I linked it to their pages with a short message.

For example: When I partnered with Primer Magazine for a new men’s advice column, I put the link on my ex-boyfriends page (who I’m friends with) and wrote, “For all those times you thought I was wrong…” and believe me, that got comments and attention.

For one of the publications, my blog was linked to my mom’s Facebook page (yes, really) and seen by the publisher of a commercial magazine. I got a call, and so it began…

Q: What are some top tips you can provide on how to be a writer?

I think if you’re a writer you just know…not because you’re great, but because you love it. Love. Love. Love it.

I’ve never taken a writing class, nor received an award for a high school essay or short story, but I love to write. When I write something I’m proud of, I have energy in my heart and bones for days (cheesy, yes. but also true).

If you want to be a writer, write. Make time to write. Make space to write. Don’t only write the things you hope to publish on your blog or elsewhere.

Write in a journal, write letters and cards to friends, write morning pages (from the book, The Artists Way).

Build your voice. Try new things. Write. Read. Talk. Get inspired.

One of my closest friends Gabi Moskowitz, of the fabulous blog Brokeass Gourmet said to me one day when writers block was consuming me…

“Instead of working so hard to write, start working hard on being inspired.”

That pretty much sums it up.

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Q: What are some tips for writing your first blog posting?

Just write it. Really, just write it. Be careful about hinging on the fantasy that your first post will be published and make you famous and and and…that’s a flavor of pressure that you just don’t need to taste.

Just remember…it’s called your first post for a reason.

The best advice I’ve ever gotten when it comes to starting something is “The only difference between those with an idea and those with a successful idea is doing something with it.”

Your blog will never be successful if you don’t start it!

Find a friend who knows about blogging and ask them to help you set it up and give you a little 101 about how to post, edit, and manage your new blog.

Take them to dinner as a thank you…and then take a breath, and go for it…

Q: I know you’ve also got a book in you — would you talk about the approach you’re considering to go from blog to book?

I definitely have a book in me. Right now though, I’m practicing what I preach and not attaching myself to any particular route, or destination for that matter.

There are different options for writing a book including writing a proposal in print, writing the entire book and sending it in to an agent, self publishing, or writing an e-book and self-promoting.

I’m in the stage right now where I’m working on the foundation and intention of my book, meeting new people in the writing world, proudly accepting new opportunities to build my audience and my writing voice…and trying to breathe along the way.

But don’t let that grounded energy be confused with passiveness… My book will be out there one day soon.

Q: Thanks, Brooke. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

You’re welcome!

The best way to reach me is through my blog Soapbox Therapy or email me at brooke@soapboxtherapy.com.

My psychotherapy office, where I see individuals, couples, and families in San Francisco can be reached at 415.294.4044

Thanks!

Brooke.

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Thursday, January 7th, 2010

How To Use The Google Wonder Wheel To Create More Efficient Content

20 Comments

Have you heard of the Google Wonder Wheel?

It’s been available for 8 months, but few know what it is…and I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

I use Google Wonder Wheel (it appears within the “Show options” after you search something on Google) as a word reference tool when I’m writing a new article –  to get an idea of things to include.

Google Wonder Wheel = More Efficient Content Creation

For example, I wrote an article two articles on the SWOT strategic planning tool (SWOT Analysis and SWOT Analysis Examples) the strategic planning tool. And when I searched “SWOT” on Google Wonder Wheel, I got back the following topics:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. SWOT Definition
  3. SWOT Marketing
  4. Personal SWOT
  5. GAP Analysis
  6. Porter’s Five Forces
  7. SWOT Examples
  8. SWOT Template

I ended up using the majority of these related topics as keywords within my articles.

Why? As I wrote about in Got Googlejuice, it’s important to be specific in your content in order to attract visitors from Google who are searching different variations of your topic (another way to find out exactly how many people are searching a specific term on Google is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool)

So, if I can cover such topics as “SWOT Definition” and “SWOT Examples” in my SWOT Analysis article, then I will attract additional traffic from people searching those terms on Google.

The Google Wonder Wheel allows for what I call more “efficient content.”

An additional use of this word reference tool is to suggest to you ideas for additional articles for you to post.

For example, I ended up writing separate articles about Gap Analysis and Porter’s Five Forces.

There’s a super-useful video of how this all works here: How To Use Google’s Wonder Wheel.

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Monday, December 14th, 2009

How To Get Incoming Links to Your Blog (or Web Site)

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I’ve seen traffic from my blog go from zero to 8,000 visitors in eight months…and I’m starting to learn how to get incoming links.

I thought I’d share some tips (many of which I still need to master myself!) on how to get incoming links to your blog (or Web site).

Top 8 Tips for Getting Incoming Links

If you’re like me, you’re going to learn all sorts of things as you try these tips out – including finding potential business opportunities beyond just incoming links.

Ok, let’s begin the list of my top 8 tips for getting incoming links:

Incoming Links Tip 1: Provide Valuable Content on Your Blog

For starters, you should have valuable content on your blog — if you do, others on the Web will eventually find you and link to you…it’s that simple.

That’s how I got this blog up to 8,000 unique visitors per month in six months.

For example, if you write helpful advice, then you’ll initially get found through search engines such as Google (who will find you through the keywords you have typed)- and then when users are searching Google for advice they will find you.

As they said in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come!” As visitors do come to your valuable content they may: link to you without even asking;  ask you to publish your advice on their Web site (with a link to you); tell their friends; add you to directories of blogs, etc.

Creating valuable content on your blog takes time and it also takes time for people to find you and link to you…but in the long run, you’ll be successful generating incoming links by following this advice alone: write valuable content!

Incoming Links Tip 2: Write Comments On Blogs

Search other people’s blogs to find topics similar to those on your own blog and contribute a comment to their blog along with a link back to your own blog posting of the related topic.

Note/Warning: You should add genuine value to their blog posting (not just post a link back to your own posting) as the administrator of the blog your commenting on can easily delete your comment for being too selfish.

Incoming Links Tip 3: Insert your Blog link or RSS Feed into Your Social Network

  • LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn has a “MyBlog” field on your profile to let you put in the address of your blog.
    • LinkedIn has “Applications” that allow you to insert your blog feed into your LinkedIn profile so that people will see an excerpt of each new blog posting you make.
  • Facebook
    • Your profile on Facebook allows you to insert an RSS feed of your blog to your Facebook page so that every time you post a new item on your blog, it will show up on your Facebook page. note: if your blog is a business blog you may want to set up a separate Fan page on Facebook).
  • Twitter
    • Insert links to your blog on Twitter. These links may be clicked on by your Twitter followers or also come up in search engines which now index Tweets (you may have to use a URL shortener (such as TinyURL or bit.ly to get your link to fit on Twitter.

Incoming Links Tip 4: Alert Content-Sharing Sites of Your Pages

Each of the below sites allow you to share your content by allowing you to submit a title and short description of what your site/content is about.

  • Digg.com
  • Reddit.com
  • StumbleUpon.com
  • Delicious.com
  • Folkd.com

Visitors to these sites below then rank your content good or bad and the more good ratings you get the more visibility you get.

Incoming Links Tip 5: Reciprocal Linking

You should always be on the look-out for Web sites whose traffic you desire and consider how you might link to each other.

For example, I have a friend who writes for a Web site for entrepreneurs and that’s part of my Web site — so he has linked to me in particular articles and I have linked to him.

The key with such reciprocal linking is to make sure the links are relevant and in context, otherwise you might get into trouble with Google and other search engines.

Google frowns upon “link schemes” such as:

  • Links to or from spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the Web
  • Excessive/automated link exchanging (“I’ll link to you if you link to me”)
  • Buying or selling links

Incoming Links Tip 6: Link Directories

There are plenty of directories that allow you to freely provide a link to your blog or Web site.

I’ve listed some examples of ones below ranked by largest to smaller ones (rank = their rank in terms of traffic on the Web (e.g. Yahoo is the second largest Web site) and unique visitors is per month).

  • Yahoo (rank: 2; 120,000,000 unique visitors)
  • Blog Catalog (rank: 233; 4,600,000 unique visitors)
  • Technorati (rank: 529; 2,868,383 unique visitors)
  • MyBlogLog (rank: 802; 1,294,037 unique visitors)
  • Dmoz.org (rank: 1,774; 1,015,926 unique users)
  • Scribnia (rank: 90,510; 19,115 unique visitors)
  • OnTopList (rank: 98,802; 17,308 unique visitors)
  • Dr. 5z5 (rank: 124,385 13,221 unique visitors)
  • FeedPlex (rank: 214,466; 6,948 unique visitors)
  • ooBdoo (rank: 329,927)
  • DayTimeNews (rank: 397,805; 3,328 unique visitors)
  • rss001 (rank: 548,185; 2,274 unique visitors)
  • FeedMil (rank: 629,551; 1,931 unique visitors)
  • Blogbal (rank: 736,845; 1,611 unique visitors)

Note: The source of the rankings and traffic is a combination of Quantcast and Compete.com

Niche Directory Submission

There are also more specific niche directories for you to be listed on – you should try a search on your favorite search engine for “keywords related to your business + directory.”

For example, if you searched “business advice in the United Kingdom” you would find that a site called FreeIndex provides a free listing of your blog/business/web site

Incoming Links Tip 7: Write an Article for Someone Else

You can get a link back to your Web site by writing an article on such sites as ArticleBase and eZineArticles. I checked ArticleBase and it seemed to allow you to use at least two or three links back to whatever URL you choose.

Incoming Links Tip 8: Acquire An Existing Web Site/URL

You may consider acquiring a Web site that has a high Google Page Rank.

For example, go to Sedo and check out existing Web sites for sale and then look at their page rank (which you can do by downloading Google’s tool bar).

If you can acquire a Web site that has a higher page rank than yours, you can then control that Web site and link to your own blog or Web site.

Note: I only recommend doing this with a Web site that is relevant to the blog or Web site you want traffic to.

For any external link you seek you should know about the no-follow link.

What Is A No-Follow Link?

If any site links to you (including some above), they may include what’s called no-follow code within their HTML.

A no-follow link indicates to search engines that the Web site publishing the link does not necessarily want the search engine to associate its reputation with the site it’s linking to.

That said, there is still value to you of being linked to from a no-follow link since you will receive traffic and some believe it is another way to let a search engines know that a particular page on your site exists (especially useful if your blog/site is a new one with few to no links to it yet).

How To Determine if a Link is No-Follow

To determine if a Web site uses no-follow you can click on the page on which they are providing links, click View/Page Source on your browser and search for a URL and see if it is preceeded by the words “no follow.”

You can also search the Web for “do-follow” Web sites – some people have compiled lists of them.

A link without the no-follow in the HTML is more valuable than a link with no-follow.

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Friday, December 11th, 2009

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

8 Comments

I met Nadja Specht recently — she runs a social media marketing company for small busineses.

I asked her some questions to help us figure out how to create a social media marketing plan.

Social Media Marketing Nadja Specht

Social Media Marketing Nadja Specht

Q: Let’s start off with your definition of social media marketing, Nadja.

I would like to start out by breaking the term down into its two components: social media and marketing.

So what is marketing? It is the systematic approach to generating interest in your products and services.

You start out with strategic questions such as:

  • “Who is my ideal customer?”
  • “What is my competition doing?”
  • “What should be my overall message?”

Then you decide which tactics to use (print, TV, online etc.).

What about social media?

Social media sums up the suite of tools and features that are available online to share information and collaborate with peers.

Now, what is the result if you combine the two?

Social media marketing is best illustrated by highlighting the following three steps:

1.  Integrating with the overall marketing plan

Social media marketing starts out with the integration into the overall marketing plan. It has to follow the same strategic direction that was developed in the overall marketing plan (remember the marketing questions above?).

2.  Deciding on the right social media tools

A key element of social media marketing is to decide which social media tools should be used. This depends heavily on the specific situation of each business, which should be reflected in the marketing plan.

Not only do you need to decide on the right tools, but also on the right sequencing and how they interact with each other in your social media ecosystem.

3.  Creating a community

Now that you have decided on which tools to use, based on your integrated marketing plan, the next task is to identify the right content and format that your audience is looking for.

Again, this needs to be in line with your overall messaging. But be aware that once the content is out, it takes on a life of its own.

That’s my long-winded explanation of what social media marketing is!

Q: Should all businesses have some type of social media marketing plan?

Yes…definitely.

However, the extent of the social media marketing plan might be very different from one company to another.

Take a company that manufactures and sells wheel-chairs to elderly people as an example.

If studies show that their ideal customer base are not tech-savvy with only 30% being online (illustrative number), then your social media marketing plan might be almost none existent.

However, you need to go through the full exercise of marketing planning and social media planning in order to come up with that conclusion.

In addition, a few years from now the situation might be very different, so you should lay some social media groundwork for the next generation of wheel-chair users.

Q: What social media marketing strategies are effective for a business to grow, profit or organize?

There is really no single perfect strategy – it all depends on the specific situation of each business. The strategy will flow out of your overall marketing plan.

Q: Would you share some basic social media marketing tactics that businesses could do right away?

While you work on developing your social media marketing plan – which everyone should start right away – start doing the following things:

1) Make any existing content that you already have online shareable

The best way to do this is by adding a share button from AddThis . This is a button that allows a visitor to use dozens of different forms (email, Twitter, Facebook, bookmark, etc.) to share the content they are  reading on your website.

Don’t worry – it is very clean and simple to use. You just have to get the code from the AddThis website and add it wherever you want on your website.

Have a look at my website for an example. Please note that there are a variety of providers that offer share buttons e.g. ShareThis, Addtoanny and more.

2) Start writing a blog

What’s key is that you develop a repository of valuable information that people will find when they search for a specific topic on the internet. Blogs are a great tool for doing this.

Even if you want to hold off with installing a blog on your website, start writing content for your future blog anyway and save the blog posts on your computer for right now.

A blog becomes basically more of a traffic generator for your “main” website pages that include information about your services and products.

For example, an immigration attorney that specializes in helping Mexican immigrants should start writing a regular blog about issues and new laws concern his client base.

When someone goes on the internet and searches for answers in that field, they will very likely end up on his blog.

3)  Play around with it

Theory only gets you so far with social media. To truly grasp the magnitude and potential of the various social media tools, you have to experience it for yourself.

So start setting up personal accounts for all the major tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) and play around with them.

Do it on a regular basis for a couple of months and you will start to get a feel for how this world works.

With some experience, you will be much better equipped to decide which tools to use for your business.

Q: When we had coffee, you mentioned a software tool called Hoot Suite — would you describe what that allows?

HootSuite started out as a web based twitter application that developed into a full fledged social media management tool. HootSuite recently started integrating Facebook and LinkedIn.

Now you can manage profiles, schedule updates and track clicks for all three major social media tools conveniently from one interface.

A variety of neat little features come with HootSuite such as link shortening, tracking of clicks on your individual updates (if they include a link), multi-column view and more.

A key element of social media success is to be very productive during a pre-determined period of time you spend on it each day.

It is easy to get sucked into it and spend half a day on checking tweets, wall posts and more. Hence productivity suites such as HootSuite are a must.

Q: Since you run a social media marketing agency, I’m curious, when do you think businesses should outsource their social media marketing to a firm likes yours (versus doing it in-house)?

There are three scenarios where I recommend outsourcing your social media activities:

1.  You have no talent in-house and don’t plan to hire someone (and you are not inclined to learn all the details yourself).

2.  You have no time to dedicate to social media or think that your time is better spent on some other parts of your business

3.  You don’t enjoy social media and basically have to force yourself to learn about it and to actively participate and grow your social media ecosystem.

You might be surprised that I don’t mention cost as a key motivator for outsourcing. With social media it is all about quality!

Think about it: your brand is shaped and sharpened by your social media activities — you directly interact with customers, prospects and potential advocates.

Therefore this is an area that you don’t want to outsource to the lowest bidder, but to someone that truly understands the social media ecosystem and is willing to learn all about your business.

Q: What are some secrets of social media marketing that you’ve learned that you believe most businesses don’t know?

I would like to sum it up in one word – “Patience.”

Business owners need to be aware of the following points when starting their social media journey:

  • It takes time to build and grow a community.
  • You might not see an ROI right away.
  • You need to be truly committed to it
  • It’s not a sales vehicle

Q: Do you have a favorite social media marketing blog you read (other than your own)?

Mashable is definitely the authority out there on social media. I receive their daily digest to stay on top of what new developments are on the horizon.

It’s definitely not a blog for the social media novice and requires some pre-existing knowledge, however  everyone should be able to get there fairly quickly.

Q: Your firm Nuvota provides a number of social marketing services. Would you describe them and tell people how they can get in touch with you?

Sure! So as it relates to social media, we provide the following three types of services:

1) Social Media Planning DIY Kit

We specifically developed a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit for business owners that would like to do the social media planning themselves and just need a structured guide.

Our DIY kit ensures that you think through all the key questions and end up with a very tangible and measurable social media plan.

2) Social Media Coaching

This 6-week program is designed for the complete social media novice who prefers to interact with a social media coach.

In weekly 60-minute one-on-one sessions, we will teach you all the key social media fundamentals you need to know and guide you through the completion of your own social media plan.

3) Social Media Outsourcing

Here we offer to take complete ownership of your social media activities.

First we develop a social media plan that we validate with you. From there we implement the various social media tactics (Facebook page, Twitter account etc.) and maintain them on a regular basis.

Each week you will receive a detailed report on what’s happening in your social media ecosystem (what people are saying about your brand, how many people became your fans, etc.).

We are also currently offering a free report titled “Top 50 social media tools every business should know about.”

For any questions you can best reach me at nadja.specht@nuvota.com.

Thanks, Nadja!

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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Multi-User Blogging

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I’ve been fascinated by the power of blogging since I began experiencing it back in April.

Now I’m interested in multi-user blogging: specifically, providing a platform that allows multiple people to blog.

Some Top Multi-User Blog Tools

The two multi-user blog tools that I’m noticing the most buzz about in my couple of hours of research are:

  1. WordPress MU — WordPress Multi User (MU) seems to be the most popular multi-user blogging tool. I first heard about it from eBay’s SEO point person Dennis Goedegebuure. They were the only multi-user blogging tool that made claims about the specific number of blogs it could support (e.g. 32,000 blogs (if you use their upload feature) and 230,000 blogs (if you turn the upload feature off).
  2. Drupal — This is a an open-source content management system that has some modules to help you build a multi-user blog . Its main benefit will be customizability and, according to some, speed. A drawback: some Drupal users are reporting that it won’t allow Themes or blog rolls.

Both are free, though you may have to pay someone to customize it for you or to buy some add-ons.

Here is an interesting comparison of WordPress MU versus Drupal MU.

Other multi-user blog software includes (all of them appear to be free):

  • b2Evolution — Open-source PHP/MySQL tool.
  • Elgg — This open source “social engine” was named after a town called Elgg in Switzerland and was started in 2004.  They suggest you have someone very technical help you use it.
  • Compendium — This blogware company claims its differentiator is that it focuses on businesses.
  • 21Publish — This company was founded in 2004 and counts some good-sized media companies in the U.S. and Europe as its clients.
  • Serendipity Weblog System — PHP-powered.
  • Apache Roller — Open source Java blog tool.
  • Moveable Type — This tool is provided by the well-connected Silicon Valley start-up SixApart (they also offer TypePad (for creating an individual blog) and Blogs.com).
  • PyBlosxom — A Python open-source multi-user blogging engine.
  • Text Pattern — An open-source content management system.
  • ByteFlow – A blog engine written in Python using Django (a content management system).
  • ExpressionEngine — Content management system with multi-user blogging features.
  • PressPublisher — These guys appear to focus on online publishing/blog tools aimed at magazines, journals and newsletters.
  • Lifetype — Another open-source tool.

Paid Multi-User Blog Tools

A couple of multi-user blog tools that cost money include:

  1. Userland’s Manila — This is priced at $1,099 (U.S. Dollars)
  2. Invision Power — It appears that you buy the Community Suite for $249.99 and then buy a blog add-on for $49.99.

Make sure that whatever multi-user blog tool you pick is well-supported. One tool called Lyceum has a notice on their site that their development team’s last bug fix appears to have been June of 2008.

Other multi-user blogging tools I’ve heard mentioned include the Blog product that comes as an add-on to Scoop and Elgg.

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